2024 Alumni Awards

During Alumni Assembly at Reunion, brief citations were read. Learn more about each recipient by exploring the more in-depth profiles prepared for Reunion. 

Based on nominations received from our alumni community, the Grinnell College Alumni Council has selected 12 outstanding Grinnellians to receive the 2024 Alumni Awards.

The Alumni Award recognizes individuals who embody Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service. Nominated by their classmates and peers, recipients have distinguished themselves by their service to their careers, their community, and/or the College.

The 12 recipients will be celebrated June 1 during Alumni Assembly at Reunion 2024. 

The 2024 Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Kathleen DuBois ’74
  • Denise Iverson-Payne ’74
  • Tony Reid ’78
  • Ed Fry ’79
  • Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson ’80
  • Nora Mann ’80
  • Elizabeth Lee ’99
  • Carla Talarico ’99
  • Brian Vicente ’99
  • Charles Blake ’05
  • Alissa Briggs ’05
  • Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14

Kathleen DuBois ’74Kathleen DuBois ’74

For decades, Kathleen DuBois fought in the trenches and out of the spotlight for the integrity of Missouri’s families. Until her recent retirement, DuBois practiced public interest law representing hundreds of indigent clients including Hurricane Katrina victims, parents facing loss of their children, and death row inmates. In 1999, she organized the Parental Justice Program in St. Louis as a prototype for holistic support services for members of families in crisis. DuBois provided parents with free legal representation for the wrongful removal of their children into foster care. She has reunited more than 400 children with their parents.

Denise Iverson-Payne ’74Denise Iverson-Payne ’74

Denise Iverson-Payne’s creativity, commitment, and collaboration to provide exceptional opportunities for college students took shape at Grinnell and continued throughout her impactful career in higher education. She was honored to be among the first stewards of Grinnell’s Black Cultural Center (BCC) and among the first to major in Black Studies. At Gustavus Adolphus College, she led diversity and inclusion initiatives in the 1990s – decades before the birth of DEI related jobs. From 2001 to 2016, she served as assistant vice chancellor for student development at North Carolina A&T. Iverson-Payne returned to Grinnell in 2014 to help plan Black Alumni Weekend.

Tony Reid ’78Tony Reid ’78

Regarded as one of America’s top doctors for cancer treatment, Tony Reid has dedicated has life to medical research and treating patients. A professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, Reid spent the last two decades studying cancer gene therapy, oncolytic viral therapy, and gastroenterology oncology. He has led numerous drug trials, established 25 patents and inventions, and authored or co-authored over 100 medical research papers and articles. Reid also has started three companies, including Epicentrx, which in 2022 was awarded a $500,000 Michael J. Fox Foundation grant to evaluate activity in Parkinson’s disease.

Ed Fry ’79Ed Fry ’79

A superb technician in the cardiology world, Ed Fry’s excellence in patient care distinguishes him ever further. In 1991, Fry joined the Ascension-St. Vincent Medical Group in Indianapolis and has remained there ever since as an interventional and general cardiologist. In addition, he has been chair of the Ascension National Cardiovascular Service Line and participated in over 75 clinical trials. His long history of leadership includes serving as president of the American College of Cardiology in 2022-23. Fry has shared his experience by hosting Grinnell student externs over the years, and he established a research award at the College in honor of his parents.

Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson ’80Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson ’80

With a steadfast commitment to Grinnell College, Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson has provided skillful leadership and wise counsel to her alma mater for decades. A trustee from 2006 to 2022, she never missed a meeting, serving stints as the board’s vice chair and chair of the Governance and Advancement Committees. She has taken part in three presidential searches, hosted regional activities in the Twin Cities, served on the Alumni Council, and assisted with student recruitment and alumni-student connections. She also has demonstrated her compassion and optimistic view of human potential throughout her career as a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Nora Mann ’80Nora Mann ’80

With a seemingly unending energy for politics and social justice causes, Nora Mann has worked to address racism, economic inequity, generational poverty, and structural problems inherent in processes and systems. At the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, she developed community and outreach programs before shifting back to legal work, managing a team of attorneys regulating the charitable nonprofit sector. Her substantial list of volunteerism includes service to the ACLU, a women’s day shelter, an organization committed to food rescue, legal observer at protests and rallies, and voting protection management and training during the last five presidential elections. 

Elizabeth Lee ’99Elizabeth Lee ’99

Liz Lee has served with distinction as a U.S. diplomat for over 16 years in some of the most challenging assignments in the Foreign Service, including the Middle East peace process, UN peacekeeping, and the ISIS invasion in Iraq and Syria. Throughout it all, she has never lost her idealism or desire to put people first. As the head of the U.S. Consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 2020 to 2023, Lee’s work ranged from strengthening economic ties to supporting minority groups in Greece, such as women and girls interested in entrepreneurship and technology, as well as supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Carla Talarico ’99Carla Talarico ’99

Carla Talarico has infused the core value of improving health for all throughout everything she has done. Talarico is an epidemiologist and international public health expert whose work focuses on vaccine development with a particular focus on immunocompromised and underserved populations. She joined Moderna as the lead epidemiologist for COVID vaccines in May 2020 and proved that an effective vaccine could be developed, tested, and made widely available in a rapid timeframe. Talarico also has worked with the CDC and the World Health Organization to assist countries around the world to develop their disease surveillance and reporting systems.

Brian Vicente ’99Brian Vicente ’99

By understanding the complexities of transitioning a controlled substance from a prohibition model to a regulated system, Brian Vicente has opened a new field of law. He successfully spearheaded the movement to legalize the use of recreational cannabis in Colorado as the lead drafter of a state amendment. He then applied this experience to assist with change in other states, along with helping Uruguay become the first country in the world to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This massive shift has led to a large-scale rethinking of drug laws and to millions of fewer arrests for cannabis violations.

Charles Blake ’05Charles Blake ’05

Charles Blake has played a critical role in the advancement of all people in the state of Arkansas. Elected to the Arkansas House of Representative in 2014, Blake sponsored multiple bills that focused on voting integrity and equality, criminal reform, and concerns of systemic and traditional racism embedded in the symbols of Arkansas’ state institutions. During his legislative tenure, he served as House minority leader and vice chair of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus. From 2019 to 2022, Blake managed the daily operations of the city of Little Rock Mayors’ office as the chief of staff. 

Alissa Briggs ’05Alissa Briggs ’05

Alissa Briggs’ tireless commitment and outstanding contributions in the field of psychology have had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of countless children. An associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Kentucky and the school behavioral health director, Briggs directs school-based mental health services, conducts neurodevelopmental assessments, and builds systems for suicide screening and intervention. Her most recent undertaking is developing a pediatric abusive head trauma clinic that will serve children from time of injury through adulthood. Briggs also is developing online resources for teachers and coaches for responding to adolescent mental health crises.

Pioneer Awards

The Alumni Council also selected one Pioneer Award recipient. The Pioneer Award is a distinctive Alumni Award, which recognizes noteworthy alumni who have graduated from Grinnell College within the past ten years. Honorees offer inspiration as models for their demonstrated commitment to the values and mission of Grinnell in such a short time.

Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14

Lisa Eshun-Wilson is dedicated to pursuing high-impact biomedical research while also promoting social change, increasing diversity, and creating inclusive environments. As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Researcher in Structural Biology at the Scripps Research Institute, Eshun-Wilson is using a technique called cryo-electron microscopy to resolve some of the world’s most mysterious machines in the hopes of elucidating their role in aging and disease. Eshun-Wilson also builds and designs programs aimed at fostering a sense of belonging and mentorship for historically marginalized groups, for which she received the 2023 Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Award.

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Nominations for future Alumni Awards are accepted at any time, though nominees are only considered when their class is celebrating a Reunion year. To nominate a fellow Grinnellian, visit the Alumni Awards page and complete the nomination form.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.